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Monday, February 12, 2018

"They Were Single Too" (David M. Hoffeditz)

TITLE: They Were Single Too: Eight Biblical Role Models
AUTHOR: David M. Hoffeditz
PUBLISHER: Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications, 2018, (160 pages).

Should I get married or remain single? Is it ok to be single? How do we live in a culture where being single seems to be some kind of a social stigman? What has the Bible got to say about singleness? Though there is no single chapter or specific reference that talks about the topic of singleness, (although 1 Corinthians 7 come close), the Bible does describe the lives of many single people. In this book, author David Hoffeditz highlights eight biblical role models of single people. Paul is the popular New Testament model of a single man, who taught about the gift of staying single, so that one can be focused on God's ministry. His key teaching is for us to be content with whatever state we are in, and also to learn how to value others who are single, without diminishing or belittling their roles in any way. Singleness also applies to widows like Anna, who had to deal with social inadequacies in the early century Jewish culture. Although not much was written about her in the Bible, the author manages to use her story as a way to teach us how a single person could still rest in God and serve God joyfully. Then there is Martha who has sometimes been vilified for the way she demanded Mary to help her. Using her example, we are warned about the dangers of distraction; a "God-needs-me atttitude," self-sufficiency, etc. More importantly, singles may try to escape from the stigma of singleness by immersing themselves into work and busy activities. Such things may work for a while but over time, reality bites. Instead, focus on resting in God. The prophet Jeremiah is a great example of one fully dependent on God for all his life, or for the most part. Instead of asking why, he prays "How Long, O Lord?" Instead of running after solutions from the world, he prays to God. In the midst of shattered dreams, Ruth is a classic example of trusting in God as her source of strength. In a world where women are treated as second class, she continued to be obedient to God in faith. Then there is Joseph who remained true to God in the midst of temptation and Nehemiah who truly felt alone when thrown into a multitude of fierce opposition. Finally, there is John the Baptist who was martyred. If there is anyone who would feel most alone, it would probably be John the Baptist.

My Thoughts
In each of these stories, there is a particular lesson to learn about what it means to be single. We learn about Paul single-hearted focus on glorifying God in everything he does. Even when the world feels that Anna was insignificant, she manages to contribute to society in her own special way. As long as God sees it, it should be enough. Being single often brings social pressures and we must all learn to deal with it at any one time. Sometimes, it is due to our unique circumstances that only God understands. We should not begin by blaming God or our circumstances. We have a choice either to adopt self-pity or to learn lessons from it. Being single gives us time to learn and to rest in God alone. We all have periods of loneliness and feeling alone. Being single is not something to be despised. It is perhaps a season in which we could spend time developing ourselves in a unique way. Receive it with thanksgiving and serve God until God says otherwise. David Hoffeditz presented his answer to the dilemma right from the start: "While neither marriage nor singleness is permanent, we accept our present marital status as a God-given gift." Great advice!

These eight biblical models are ways to encourage those of us who may feel alone or unable to escape from the social stigma affecting us. Perhaps, the biggest barrier is not external but inside us. If we are grateful to God for who we are, and for our existing circumstances, others do not have any right to judge us. Trust God, and the eight models are examples of doing just that. May we write our own stories even as we enter the season of singleness.

Dr David Hoffeditz is co-founder and director of Ancient Tours, which is an organization that leads people to Bible lands. He also teaches part-time at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. He holds a PhD in New Testament studies from the University of Aberdeen in Scotland.

Rating: 4 stars of 5.


This book has been provided courtesy of Kregel Publications without requiring a positive review. All opinions offered above are mine unless otherwise stated or implied.

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